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View Full Version : Blind A/B Sound Test -- Two Ukes



robedney
08-07-2015, 05:57 PM
Hi All,

I'd really appreciate some feedback. I've linked to a Soundcloud audio file with two tenor ukuleles, identified as A and B. It's a short clip, just individual strings, a thumb roll and some quick strums.

I'll identify the instruments after you all have a chance to voice your thoughts.

https://soundcloud.com/user564337226/sound-test-1

Quick technical details: Recorded through a Samson usb mic straight into an Ipad running Garage Band. "Dry" setting (no effects/delay/etc.). Manual gain control on input, same level for both instruments. Both instruments same distance from mic.

boogie10
08-07-2015, 06:12 PM
I like the 2nd one.

Steveperrywriter
08-07-2015, 06:59 PM
Second one soinded better to me.

rockyl
08-07-2015, 07:02 PM
I don't hear much difference, but I'd pick the 1st one.

zztush
08-07-2015, 07:40 PM
I like the first one.

TheBathBird
08-07-2015, 09:22 PM
I preferred the second one.

Hippie Dribble
08-07-2015, 11:06 PM
A - I didn't like the sound of the open strings plucked, notably the high E and A strings sounded a bit abrasive to me. As the tension got higher it seemed to lose volume. I was wondering if the E had a slight buzz even? Had a much nicer tone overall when strummed.

B - The highs were sweeter on this uke and it had better balance across the strings, also a richer and fuller sound overall when both strummed and picked.

I preferred the second one.

Strumdaddy
08-08-2015, 12:54 AM
Uke No. 2 for me too.
First one sounded kind of brittle - like all the mids had been rolled back.
Second uke had more depth to the sound - warmer, fuller and more cuddly.

kvehe
08-08-2015, 02:08 AM
I prefer the second one.

pabrizzer
08-08-2015, 02:27 AM
Second one for me but I don't think it was in tune as well as the first one especially the high A string.

WhenDogsSing
08-08-2015, 02:28 AM
They both have an Outdoor Ukulele tenor sound to my ears. I must need some new ears...Ha! Ha! Ha!

pulelehua
08-08-2015, 07:11 AM
First one was more trebly. Almost tinny, though it's hard to know with PC recording. Second had a more traditional ukulele sound. I'd be surprised if the second ukulele didn't have a softer top wood.

Then of course, there's how you're playing them. Playing the second one close to the bridge on some ukuleles could get a tone close to the first. Or playing the first one up the neck could get a tone like the second.

Mind games.

So what were they?

perep
08-08-2015, 07:17 AM
The 2nd one -B sounds softer, smoother, not so harsh. What strings are they both?

robedney
08-08-2015, 07:59 AM
Thanks all so far! This is fascinating (I'm the OP). I'll reveal the two ukes later today. More please!

Gary52
08-08-2015, 09:03 AM
Prefer the first one. I like the more trebly sound.

mikelz777
08-08-2015, 09:28 AM
The 2nd one, by a good margin.

Osprey
08-08-2015, 10:21 AM
I also vote for the 2nd one. It's tone was sweeter, and fuller. Like a good tenor should
Cliff

uke51
08-08-2015, 11:44 AM
To my ears, the first one sounds a little stiff or strident. The second sounds sweeter, but muted. I'd use the first one in a jam, I think it would be heard; and the second for solo playing.

If I had to choose one, I'd pick the second...

Ukulele Eddie
08-08-2015, 12:40 PM
Part B, part A. ;-)

I prefer "B" for the initial staccato strums, but for the faster strumming it overdrives the mid-range and overpowers the higher and lower registers (if I had to guess, I'd say it's a mahogany uke). So for the faster strums, I'd choose "A".

wildfire070
08-08-2015, 01:10 PM
I prefer the 2nd one for sure

Jacman Rasta Bicycle
08-08-2015, 03:32 PM
I like the 2nd one better. It sounds like a milk chocolate brown vs the 1st ukulele which was more of a beige with a little yellow.
(yes, I hear colors and see sounds...yeah. weird)

mailman
08-08-2015, 04:55 PM
I liked "B" better, by quite a bit. I'm anxious to hear what the two instruments are....

Hippie Dribble
08-08-2015, 05:15 PM
Where are you, Robert? The jury is well and truly in.

CactusWren
08-08-2015, 07:19 PM
I liked #1, just listening one time. Wonder if I need to change my vote after seeing how everyone liked #2. :)

robedney
08-08-2015, 07:21 PM
OK, the big reveal -- you all really surprised me. First of all I want to thank everyone who listened and offered their opinion -- this is invaluable feedback.

Uke "A" is a Pono ATSH PC (solid acacia with slotted headstock). Strings are Worth browns, low G set.

Uke "B" is indeed a carbon fiber prototype. Strings are Worth browns with the exception of the low G, which is a Fremont Soloist wound.

Pics of both are below -- please note that the carbon fiber uke is a prototype and a little rough.

You surprised me because a clear majority favored the carbon fiber prototype. I actually think that the Pono is a pretty sweet sounding instrument. However, once I strung up the prototype for the fourth time (after various modifications -- more on that below) and played it for awhile it really started to grow on me. I still feel that it needs more focus (someone mentioned over-driving the mid-range, and I agree). The next prototype will have a very slightly thicker top plate, using a piece of woven natural flax (literally Irish linen) on the top. I'm hoping that the added stiffness will add focus -- as well as the acoustical damping the linen should provide. As it is now the instrument shines for finger-picking, but I think it needs a little help when strummed.

Specs of the CF instrument: All carbon fiber body/neck as one unit -- hand done wet layup with vacuum followed by post-cure. Fingerboard, headstock veneer and bridge of curly maple treated with marine epoxy (not just water proof, but impervious to water vapor -- so fully stable). I like wood a lot, so I couldn't not use it. 17 3/32 scale, 20 frets. Nut is ebony and bridge saddle is brass. The lining (where the top is glued down to the body) is steam bent walnut (epoxy surface permeation). So, once the top is glued on we bevel cut it to reveal the walnut. This also makes a nice comfy edge for your strumming arm.

I actually dreamed up a hollow neck with a sound port a long time ago, mostly because I'm deaf in my right ear. I figured that the port would allow me to hear more of the uke, given it's proximity to my good ear. I then came across Blackbird ukes and saw that they'd done the same thing. However, I've nixed that idea now for us. I've not met a Blackbird in person as yet but I'm confident they made it work somehow. After the first set-up the instrument sounded odd to me acoustically. I eventually stuffed a wadded up paper towel in the neck at the neck to body location and things improved dramatically. Also, when I was developing our violin I eventually concluded that the instrument benefited from the mass of a solid wooden neck (as opposed to a hollow one in carbon fiber) -- so that's how we make them.

On the next prototype the neck/body will still be once piece, but I'm going to fill the neck with a mix of resin/micro-balloons/silica to more or less simulate the mass of a mahogany neck. I actually didn't believe for a long time that neck mass had much to do with the acoustics of the instrument, but practical experience has proven me wrong.

Oh, by the way, tuners on the CF instrument are Gotoh UPT. I have mixed emotions about these things, but will probably use them again. Also a total redesign of the headstock veneer, logo, etc.

Again my thanks to all! We'll do it again with the next prototype!

821918219282193

DownUpDave
08-09-2015, 12:59 AM
Count me as one Pono fanboy who is crushed ;)

That is fanatastic, a CF protype that the majority thinks bested a very well respected all solid wood instrument. Congratulations on all your hard work and sharing it with us. This is all very interesting, love the use of wood with black CF, very stunning.

Ukulele Eddie
08-09-2015, 12:50 PM
Very interesting and creative project. Thanks for agreeing with my observation about the mid-range -- my still developing ears feel validated! BTW, I checked out your violins and they are quite impressive. My soon to be 8 yr old daughter wants one. I told her maybe in high school if she sticks with it!

flailingfingers
08-09-2015, 02:16 PM
Well done. I prefer #2 by a good margin.

robedney
08-09-2015, 04:58 PM
Count me as one Pono fanboy who is crushed ;)

That is fanatastic, a CF protype that the majority thinks bested a very well respected all solid wood instrument. Congratulations on all your hard work and sharing it with us. This is all very interesting, love the use of wood with black CF, very stunning.

Thanks! I love doing this and it's great to get some feedback. I too love the use of wood against the black CF. We give our violin customers a choice of woods to choose from, and one of the most popular is "bloodwood".

robedney
08-09-2015, 05:01 PM
Very interesting and creative project. Thanks for agreeing with my observation about the mid-range -- my still developing ears feel validated! BTW, I checked out your violins and they are quite impressive. My soon to be 8 yr old daughter wants one. I told her maybe in high school if she sticks with it!

Tell your soon to be 8 yr old that we'll be happy to make her a violin when she's ready -- and we're counting on her to keep playing and learning. Maybe at the same time we can make a uke for you! We can match the woods used on both. I know high school seems like it's a long way off, but in my memory of parenting it all happened frighteningly quickly!

robedney
08-09-2015, 05:03 PM
Well done. I prefer #2 by a good margin.

Glad you did! Next up will likely be a blind A/B/C test, including the Pono, the first prototype and the next one that I'm working on right now. This all takes time but it's a fascinating process!

robedney
08-09-2015, 05:14 PM
I forgot to mention the total: Of those who specified a choice the Pono got 5 votes and the CF prototype got 15. Again, I am more than a little surprised! It still very much love my Pono -- beautifully made, sweet sound and delivered with perfect setup by HMS. Highly recommended.

johnson430
08-15-2015, 09:24 PM
Strings can make or break an instrument.

I had worth brown low g strings on my Pono Mango Tenor for all of about 3 hours.
I hated those strings. And I don't use the word hate often.
Also, another Pono player I know tried the Worth brown low g on his Mahogany Deluxe tenor and pulled them off within a day too.

This sound sample just goes to show you what strings can do to an instrument.

I would like to hear some J71's or Golds on that Pono instead.

I never, ever, ever would have guessed that was a Pono. EVER!

wayward
08-16-2015, 01:49 AM
Strings can make or break an instrument.

I had worth brown low g strings on my Pono Mango Tenor for all of about 3 hours.
I hated those strings. And I don't use the word hate often.
Also, another Pono player I know tried the Worth brown low g on his Mahogany Deluxe tenor and pulled them off within a day too.

This sound sample just goes to show you what strings can do to an instrument.

I would like to hear some J71's or Golds on that Pono instead.

I never, ever, ever would have guessed that was a Pono. EVER!

:agree: Some people on here are well aware of my love of Golds on my Pono Acacia Concert. When I bought it (with Mahana strings on, which I didn't like on this concert, but do like on my Mango Baritone - maybe not a fair comparison, as they are very different instruments) I was told by a Worth Browns fan that they don't sound good on a Pono Acacia. I've seen plenty of other people on here say they have Worths on their Ponos though...